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CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE 

Iran 

Christopher P. Thornton 



1 Introduction: The Rise(s) and Fall(s) of Bronze Age Iran 

The collapse of the Proto-Elamite phenomenon (Ch. 1.26) around 29/2800 BC 
ended a 2,000 year-long pattern of increasing social stratification and settlement 
expansion on the Iranian plateau (Lamberg-Karlovslcy 1978; Alden 1982; Helwing 
2004). The entire Zagros region, from Godin Tepe near Kangavar to Tal-e 
Malyan in Fars, as well as the lowlands of southwestern Iran (especially Susa), 
experienced a fairly dramatic decline in the number of concentrated, proto-urban 
societies. The Proto-Elamite sites of north-central Iran (e.g., Tepe Sialic, Tepe 
Ozbaki, and Tepe Ghabristan) disappeared entirely at the end of the Sialic IV 
period, not to be resettled until nearly 1,000 years later. Many sites further east 
that had not been directly colonized by the Proto-Elamites, such as Tepe Hissar 
in northeastern Iran, also witnessed a constriction of settlement. The reasons 
for this dramatic "collapse" across most of the Iranian plateau are not well 
understood, but the Early Trans-Caucasian (ETC or "Kura-Araxes"; Ch. 11.35) 
presence at a number of sites in western and north-central Iran (both during and 
just after the Proto-Elamite phenomenon), suggests a significant culture 
and power vacuum in these regions that was apparently filled by migratory tribes 
from the northwest (Batiulc and Rothman 2007). 

When large centers did reappear on the Iranian plateau in the mid-3rd mill- 
ennium BC, they mostly arose in areas that had previously been of negligible 
importance, such as northeastern and southeastern Iran. The long-distance trade 



A Companion to the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, First Edition. 

Edited by D.T. Potts. 

© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Published 2012 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 



Iran 597 

routes that had once criss-crossed the plateau from east to west were gradually 
reoriented in this period toward the seafaring south, from which the finished and 
semi-processed goods of Iranian craftspeople could more easily reach hungry con- 
sumer markets in Mesopotamia and in the Gulf. As the sea trade became more and 
more dominant toward the end of the 3rd millennium BC (thereby making over- 
land trade more and more obsolete), these eastern Iranian centers of craft produc- 
tion and trade could no longer compete with mass-produced goods from the Indus 
Valley (e.g., carnelian and possibly lapis) and the Oman peninsula (copper and 
chlorite) (T.F. Potts 1993; Ratnagar 2004). Just as quicldy as they arose, the major 
centers of eastern Iran collapsed around 2000 BC, once again creating a culture 
and power vacuum that was possibly filled by migratory peoples from the Bactria- 
Margiana region of Central Asia (Hiebert and Lamberg-Karlovsky 1992). 

As these east Iranian centers disappeared, the old Elamite centers of south- 
western Iran, such as Susa and Tal-e Malyan (ancient Anshan), again rose to 
prominence (Carter and Stolper 1984; Potts 1999). The renewed importance of 
these sites was also coincident with the collapse of the Akkadian empire. As 
southern Mesopotamia devolved into competing city-states, southwestern Iran 
seems to have taken control of the remainder of the overland trade from the 
plateau, possibly even gaining control of some of the sea trade coming from 
the east. Combined with sociopolitical competition from the Mesopotamian 
city-states, this led to greater social complexity and increased population density 
in Elam. 



2 Forms of Urbanism: Primate Centers, Tiered Settlement 
Hierarchies, and Symbiotic Centers 

Primate centers 

The observant reader will notice that in the preceding sketch of 3rd and early 
2nd millennium BC settlement patterns in Iran, I have carefully avoided using 
the words "city" and "urbanism." Both terms have a long and complicated 
history in archaeology and, indeed, in the social sciences more generally (see 
Marcus and Sabloff 2008). If the intention of this chapter had been to discuss 
all the settlements in Bronze Age Iran that could be defined as "cities" in a tra- 
ditional sense (Childe 1950), it would be significantly shorter than it is. Instead, 
I have attempted to describe three types of "urbanism" (in a non-traditional, 
more inclusive sense) in Bronze Age Iran that show similarities to urban societies 
in Mesopotamia as well as differences. These three types are: (1) primate centers; 
(2) areas with tiered settlement hierarchies; and (3) symbiotic centers. While a 
complete review of all Bronze Age settlements in Iran that fit into these categories 
is well beyond the scope of this chapter, it is hoped that a preliminary look at a 
few major sites will provide examples of these different types of urbanism. 



598 Bronze Age Cities of the Plains and the Highlands 

Tal-e Malyan in the Kur River Basin (KRB) of Fars is the quintessential 
example of a "primate center" (if not a city) in Bronze Age Iran. As shown by 
the survey data of Sumner (1972, 1986a) and Alden (1979, in press), the rural 
hinterland of the KRB was abandoned (i.e., most small settlements disappeared) 
during the Early Banesh period (c. 3400-3250 BC). At the same time, Tal-e 
Malyan experienced enormous growth, especially during the Middle Banesh 
period (c. 3250-2950 BC), growing to about 50 hectares. The few rural sites that 
continued to be occupied were all smaller than 3 hectares. This trend continued 
in the Late Banesh period (c.2950-27/2600 BC), and although Tal-e Malyan 
shrank to c.28 hectares at this time, a massive city wall enclosing some 200 hec- 
tares was built around it (Sumner 1985). 

It is possible that these changes in regional settlement patterns and in the size 
and organization of Tal-e Malyan were due to the adoption of an economic 
system based upon transhumant pastoralism between highland Fars and lowland 
Khuzestan by the end of the 4th and the early 3rd millennium BC (Alden, in 
press). It has recently been argued that the Late Banesh phase, although tra- 
ditionally associated with the Proto-Elamite horizon (and therefore presumed to 
end around 29/2800 BC), continued after the collapse of the Proto-Elamite 
phenomenon, lasting to c. 2500/2400 BC as a large conglomeration of different 
nomadic tribes (Miller and Sumner 2004; Alden et al. 2005). Alternatively, the 
end of the Late Banesh (c. 2900/2800 BC) may be viewed as distinct from 
the Banesh-Kaftari transition (c.2900/2800-2500/2400 BC) (Alden, pers. 
comm.). In either case, the presence of nomadic pastoralists would accord well 
with the presence of a mid-3rd millennium BC cemetery at Jalyan, located south 
of the KRB, which has no corresponding settlement (Miroschedji 1974). 

Although occupation continued at Tal-e Malyan after the Banesh phase, it was 
not until the late 3rd millennium BC that the site once again became an important 
center (Sumner 1989; Petrie et al. 2005 ). During the Kaftari period (c.2200-1600 
BC), Tal-e Malyan grew to 130 hectares and regained control of the highlands of 
southwestern Iran under the Shimashki Dynasty (c. 2200-1900 BC; Susa VA), 
before serving as "co-capital" (with Susa) of the sukkalmah Dynasty (c. 1900-1600 
BC; Susa VB) (Carter and Stolper 1984: 151-3; Potts 1999). This system of dual, 
highland-lowland capitals between Khuzestan and Fars continued throughout 
Elamite history and was adopted by the Achaemenids in the 6th century BC. 

In contrast to the "primate center" of Banesh-period Tal-e Malyan, the 
"primate center" of Kaftari-period Anshan was simply the largest center in a set- 
dement hierarchy involving towns (10-16 hectares), large villages (4-8 hectares), 
and small villages (less than 4 hectares) (Sumner 1988: 317). This demographic 
"explosion" (or, perhaps, resettlement of formerly mobile populations) occurred 
relatively quicldy in the Early Kaftari phase (c.2200-2000 BC) (Sumner 1989: 
139) and was replicated in Khuzestan a century or two later at the start of the 
sukkalmah Dynasty (c. 1900-1800 BC) (Carter and Stolper 1984: 150; see below). 
While no one doubts the primacy of Kaftari Tal-e Malyan in the KRB at this 



Iran 599 

time, it is notable that the site was the center of a settlement hierarchy in a way 
that differed from the situation during the Banesh-period. 

The causes of this "re-urbanization" of the KRB at the end of the 3rd millen- 
nium BC are unclear. The collapse of the Akkadian empire and the resultant 
turmoil in southern Mesopotamia may have encouraged a political resurgence in 
both highland and lowland Elam. Alternatively, the revival of Tal-e Malyan may 
have been due to affairs further east. Indeed, as the major sites of southeastern 
Iran (e.g., Shahr-i Sokhta, see below) constricted in size and importance as a 
result of the burgeoning Gulf trade, Fars may have become a conduit between 
the resource-rich Iranian plateau and the Persian Gulf. More work is needed 
at the site to understand the transition between the Late Banesh and Early Kaftari 
phases before anything conclusive can be posited. 

Shahr-i Sokhta (Persian for "burned city") in the Sistan basin of eastern Iran 
provides another example of a "primate center" in the 3rd millennium BC. Founded 
in the late 4th millennium BC as a small (10-15 hectares) town with connections 
to Pakistani Baluchistan (shown by the presence of "Quetta Ware"), Central Asia 
(shown by the presence of Namazga Ill-style ceramics and figurines), and the 
Proto-Elamite phenomenon (shown by a single tablet and several cylinder seals), 
the site grew to c.100 hectares by the mid-3rd millennium BC (Lamberg-Karlovsky 
and Tosi 1973: 24-8; Biscione et al. 1977; Salvatori and Vidale 1997; Salvatori and 
Tosi 2005). At that time (Shahr-i Sokhta III, c.2500-2200 BC), the Sistan basin 
was filled with 3rd millennium BC sites displaying material remains identical to 
those at Shahr-i Sokhta, yet with the possible exception of the Gardan Reg site(s?) 
found by W. Fairservis (1961) during his survey of Afghan Sistan, estimated to 
cover c.50 hectares, none of the Sistan sites was larger than c.2 hectares (Tosi 1984: 
30). In contrast to the tiered settlement hierarchies of other areas (see below), the 
east Iranian region seems to have been dominated by Shahr-i Sokhta, one of 
the largest sites on the entire Iranian plateau in any prehistoric period. 

Traditionally, the rise of Shahr-i Sokhta was seen as a result of its monopoly 
of the lapis lazuli trade from Afghanistan to Mesopotamia (Tosi 1974, 1984). 
The discovery of a large workshop with lapis wasters and lapidary tools left little 
doubt that lapis processing was a major vocation of the 3rd millennium BC inhab- 
itants of this site (Tosi and Piperno 1973; Casanova 1992) and, judging by the 
Period II graves in the large (20-25 hectares) extramural cemetery at Shahr-i 
Sokhta, lapis consumption peaked before the settlement reached its maximum 
size (M. Vidale, pers. comm.). It was argued that the wealth created by the lapis 
trade resulted in significant social stratification, as seen in the hundreds of burials 
that have been excavated in the extramural cemetery since the 1970s (Sajjadi 
2003; Piperno and Salvatori 2007). These dramatic social changes resulted in 
the construction of a large (400+ square meter) building with ceramic piping 
(for rainwater/sewage?) in the Central Quarters of the site, presumably used for 
administrative and/or ritual purposes. At the end of Period III (c. 2300/2200 
BC), Shahr-i Sokhta appears to have constricted considerably, possibly due to a 



600 Bronze Age Cities of the Plains and the Highlands 

cessation of the lapis trade as the sea route (and the Harappan civilization) gained 
prominence. The enigmatic "Burned Building" of Period IV, a large (500+ 
square meter) structure with numerous parallels at Namazga V sites in Central 
Asia (Tosi 1983: 94) is all that remains of the once-great settlement. This struc- 
ture was destroyed by fire c.2000 BC. 

This model for the rise and fall of Shahr-i Sokhta may be questioned for a 
number of reasons. First, the idea that lapis was worked at the site mostly for 
export while other semi-precious stones (e.g., turquoise, carnelian, alabaster) 
were consumed locally (Bulgarelli 1981) has been challenged by continued work 
in the cemetery (Vidale and Foglini, pers. comm.). Indeed, the frequency of 
semi-precious stones in the mortuary finds made at the site suggests that only a 
small amount of worked lapis left Shahr-i Sokhta as semi -processed lumps, cer- 
tainly not enough to supply the (chronologically later) Royal Graves at Ur, let 
alone any other Mesopotamian sites. Secondly, the "administrative" building in 
the Central Quarters, while indeed larger and more impressive than other build- 
ings of the period, is only twice the size of the houses of the Eastern Residential 
Area. Since we do not know whether these houses were for elites, merchants, or 
working-class families, it is hard to gauge the true significance of the administra- 
tive building. Indeed, Shahr-i Sokhta is remarkable for its lack of monumental 
structures, city walls, or public buildings, so indicative of other "urban" centers 
in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley (Biscione et al. 1977: 104). 

Shahr-i Sokhta is also remarkable for having an extremely diverse assemblage 
of grave goods, including ceramics and small finds typical of almost every culture 
in the highly balkanized Indo-Iranian borderland region (Shaffer 1986, 1992; 
Piperno and Salvatori 2007). These include objects from Pakistani Baluchistan, 
the Helmand valley of Afghanistan, southern Central Asia, northeastern Iran, the 
Kerman-Dasht-e Lut region, the Jiroft basin, and Iranian Baluchistan. No other 
site in Iran has such a diverse cultural assemblage. In addition, Shahr-i Sokhta is 
the only site in the Indo-Iranian borderlands with both Emir Gray Ware (from 
Iranian Baluchistan) and Faiz Mohammad Gray Ware (from Pakistani Baluchistan 
and the Makran) (R.P. Wright 1989). Given this evidence, it seems likely that 
Shahr-i Sokhta was less a true "city" than an enlarged trading entrepot - a sort 
of prehistoric caravanserai - in which merchants and tradesmen from across the 
Indo-Iranian borderlands congregated to do business, or at which they simply 
stopped along their way. If this proves to be the case, it would explain the lack 
of monumental and defensive structures at Shahr-i Sokhta, despite strong evi- 
dence of social stratification and vocational specialization. 



Tiered settlement hierarchies 

Susa was the lowland capital of the Elamites and the most important site in the 
southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan for millennia. One of the major 



Iran 601 

centers of the Proto-Elamite phenomenon, Susa had (like Tal-e Malyan) flour- 
ished in the late 4th and early 3rd millennia BC (despite the fact that some scholars 
believe this was a period of low population, a phenomenon that may have been 
linked with the dominance of Banesh-period Tal-e Malyan; Alden 1987: 157), 
only to go through a period of demographic and presumably political decline 
after the Susa III period. This led to a period of political obscurity in the mid-3rd 
millennium BC (Susa IV, c. 2600-2200 BC) related to the rising power of southern 
Mesopotamia and southeastern Iran (Carter and Stolper 1984: 132-3; Potts 
1999: 94-5). This is not to say that Susa itself declined - in fact, there is good 
evidence to suggest that the settlement expanded from c.10 hectares in the Proto- 
Elamite period (Susa III) to c.45 hectares in the Susa IV period, with numerous 
small satellite villages (Carter and Stolper 1984: 135). Furthermore, important 
Susa IV finds such as the Vase a la Cachette, with its hoard of metal objects and 
six cylinder seals from across the Elamite world (Pittman 2002), suggest that 
Susa was a significant node in the system of long-distance trade linking the Iranian 
plateau with southern Mesopotamia. What is unclear is whether Susa exercised 
any real political power or even cultural influence over other settlements in greater 
Susiana during this period (Schacht 1987: 175). 

With the rise of the Old Elamite polity (Susa V; c. 2200-1600 BC), Susa once 
again exerted political and cultural dominance over Khuzestan. Other lowland 
regions of southwestern Iran, such as the Ram Hormuz and Izeh valleys, were 
almost entirely depopulated at this time (Wright and Carter 2003), creating a 
population boom in Susiana and, perhaps, in the KRB to the east. However, 
unlike Tal-e Malyan, Susa was not a "primate center" at this time. Rather, Susa 
served as the focal point of a complex setdement hierarchy, the political and social 
dynamics of which are not fully understood (Potts 1999: 156). In the Shimashki 
phase, Susa was surrounded by at least 12 towns (4-10 hectares) and 8 villages 
(0-4 hectares), while in the sukkalmah phase (when Susa reached 85 hectares in 
size), Khuzestan was littered with another 20 villages and 3 even bigger towns 
(larger than 10 hectares) (Carter and Stolper 1984: 150). Some of these large 
towns, such as Chogha Mish, appear to have had their own administrative (or 
otherwise "elite") structures (Alizadeh 2008: 30), suggesting some level of 
autonomy. 

Given the lack of well-excavated Period IV-V contexts at Susa, we are limited 
in how much we can say about its role in the tiered settlement hierarchy of 
Susiana at this time. In terms of the iconography and statuary at the site, there 
is no question that Susa played an important role in the religious and cultural 
life of Khuzestan. Perhaps by this time Susa had become merely a symbolic or 
ritual "capital" for the lowlands - a center of religious administration and other 
ceremonial purposes - while other neighboring sites carried out more administra- 
tive and/or political functions. Our data from these sites are, sadly, too few, and 
we must await further excavations to truly understand the internal dynamics of 
the Old Elamite polity. 



602 Bronze Age Cities of the Plains and the Highlands 



Symbiotic centers 

An important dynamic in ancient Iranian political and cultural lite was the rela- 
tionship between highland and lowland societies within the same general region. 
As discussed above for Tal-e Malyan and Susa, such highland-lowland relation- 
ships were often based upon transhumant or seasonal migration of related (if not 
the same) populations moving between pastures (i.e., highland "capital" in the 
summer; lowland "capital" in the winter). However, not all highland-lowland 
relations in ancient Iran were based on transhumance. In many cases, symbiotic 
relations consisted of highland sites providing raw materials (e.g., timber, stone) 
and craft goods (e.g., metal, beads) to their lowland neighbors in return for 
"invisible exports" (Crawford 1973) from the lowlands (e.g., grain, livestock). 
This is not to say that highland sites did not also produce food, or that lowland 
sites did not carry out craft activities. It is merely a reflection of the increased 
specialization of labor and increased "urban" dependence on others so typical of 
Bronze Age societies of the Middle East. Tepe Hissar and Tureng Tepe in north- 
eastern Iran are perhaps the most obvious examples of these so-called symbiotic 
centers in Bronze Age Iran. 

Located on the important east-west trade route from Central Asia to north- 
central Iran, Tepe Hissar was for 2,000 years the most important settlement in 
the Damghan plain (Schmidt 1937; Dyson and Howard 1989). A major exporter 
of base and precious metals as well as semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli 
and alabaster, Hissar never seems to have exceeded 10-12 hectares (Tosi 1984, 
1989). While a handful of other Bronze Age sites have been found nearby, all 
are small hamlets and villages of little political importance (Trinkaus 1989). 
Tureng Tepe, on the other hand, is one of more than 300 small mounds in the 
southern part of the Gorgan plain (Arne 1935: 31), distinguished from the others 
only by the presence of a monumental mudbrick platform (the "haute terrasse" 
or high terrace) dating to the late 3rd millennium BC (Deshayes 1975, 1977). 
While much of Tureng Tepe lies under the water table, it is unlikely that the 
settlement was ever larger than 10-15 hectares. Thus, to call either Hissar or 
Tureng Tepe a "city," even relative to other Bronze Age Iranian settlements, is 
misleading. However, both were the major centers of their micro-regions, likely 
exerting considerable influence over nearby sites and each was connected to the 
other in what appears to have been a co-dependent relationship. 

Evidence of this symbiosis is admittedly slim for the 3rd millennium BC, as 
both Hissar III and Tureng III levels remain mostly unpublished and unanalyzed. 
It is clear that contact between these two regions began at least by the mid-4th 
millennium BC, when occasional Hissar IC/IIA sherds are found eroding from 
later mudbricks or emerging from waterlogged levels at sites on the Gorgan Plain 
(Arne 1945: 171). Similarly, Caspian Black-on-Red wares of the Tureng IIA/ 
Shah III period were first imported to Hissar in the E-D Transitional Phase 



Iran 603 

(c.3400 BC) of the revised Hissar sequence (Thornton et al. in press) when the 
inhabitants of both the Damghan and Gorgan plains began to share many 
obvious cultural traits (e.g., burnished gray wares, double spiral-headed metal 
pins). 

The shared production and use of burnished gray wares in both regions is the 
most obvious sign of close cultural interaction (especially relative to the painted 
ware tradition of the Namazga III-IV sites to the east and the buff ware tradition 
of the Sialic IV sites to the west). However, it is important to emphasize that the 
earliest gray ware assemblages at Tureng Tepe and Hissar are quite different in 
form and in their use of certain decorations (Cleuziou 1986: 231; Dyson 1992: 
270). For example, in the late 4th and early 3rd millennia BC (Tureng IIA-IIB), 
Caspian Gray Ware exhibits extensive use of incising, embossing, and ribbing/ 
grooving, while Hissar Gray Ware was more commonly pattern-burnished 
(Deshayes 1968: 37). In addition, Tureng II/Shah III sites have a unique form 
of unpainted pottery called Caspian Red Ware, almost identical to Caspian Gray 
Ware (besides the oxidizing firing conditions) but with some unique forms. This 
suggests that while the two centers were closely linked, they maintained their 
own identity. 

The nature of this symbiotic relationship seems to have been a classic producer- 
consumer one. Tepe Hissar is known to have been a major center of craft pro- 
duction in the late 4th and early 3rd millennia BC, notably for copper, lead, and 
precious metals as well as for semi-precious stones such as steatite/chlorite, lapis, 
and alabaster (Tosi 1989; Pigott 1989a). In contrast, Tureng Tepe was a remark- 
able (although not extravagant) consumer of these same goods (particularly in 
Period IIIA), but had no evidence of craft production at this time (Deshayes 
1969: 14). The only evidence of craft production on the Gorgan Plain is the 
metallurgical mold and melting crucible fragments from period III levels at Shah 
Tepe (Arne 1945: 258). Interestingly, the only molds from the contemporaneous 
metallurgical workshops on the South Hill at Tepe Hissar were for metal ingots 
(presumably for export) (see Thornton 2009). While this does not prove a sym- 
biotic relationship, particularly in the poorly studied late 3rd millennium BC 
contexts, it is certainly a strong indicator. 



A fourth type? 

Most major settlements of Bronze Age Iran fall into the three types of centers 
discussed above. Some, like Tal-e Malyan and Susa, could easily be assigned to 
all three categories, depending upon the time period and how one looks at the 
data. In general, however, it must be remembered that few of these settlements 
can be defined as "urban" in the traditional Childean sense, and none comes 
anywhere near the size and complexity of contemporary lowland cities in Egypt, 
Mesopotamia, or the Indus Valley. 



604 Bronze Age Cities of the Plains and, the Highlands 

There is, perhaps, one exception to this statement that deserves comment, 
despite the preliminary state of our knowledge about this settlement. The dis- 
covery and subsequent excavation of Konar Sandal in the Halil Rud valley, just 
south of modern-day Jiroft, has already changed our understanding of the Bronze 
Age of southeastern Iran (Majidzadeh 2003, 2008a; Lawler 2004). Long thought 
to have been a politically insignificant area, despite the important production of 
copper and chlorite items for export at sites like Shahdad and Tepe Yahya, the 
presence of an enormous site (perhaps 400+ hectares) with monumental archi- 
tecture, mortuary evidence of complex social stratification, highly developed local 
art and iconography, local forms of writing (or proto -writing), and evidence of 
long-distance contact with Mesopotamia, Central Asia, the Indus Valley, and the 
Gulf, all suggest that this area was in fact a major player in the Bronze Age world 
(Majidzadeh in press; Pittman in press). 

While the exact limits of Konar Sandal are not yet known due to overlying 
alluvium, two areas are delineated by their monumental structures: Konar Sandal 
South (KSS) and Konar Sandal North (KSN). The construction of the massive 
mudbrick "Citadel" and surrounding wall at KSS has been dated to c. 2400-2300 
BC, while the earliest levels reached at this site so far date to the early 3rd mil- 
lennium BC. In the period leading up to the building of the Citadel and during 
the use of the Citadel itself, KSS was a major center of craft production (particu- 
larly of lapidary work), judging by the presence of multiple workshop areas and 
the innumerable semi-precious stone flakes that carpet the site. Unlike other 
craft-producing sites on the Iranian plateau, Konar Sandal does not seem to have 
been a major exporter of goods, but actively consumed these items and other 
imported goods in lavish burial rituals (Majidzadeh 2003; Hessari 2005). 

At the same time, Konar Sandal seems to have played an important political 
and economic role as a center for foreign merchants to do business. Unlike Shahr- 
i Sokhta, which (as argued above) played a similar role as a "caravanserai" for 
the Indo-Iranian borderlands, Konar Sandal attracted merchants from across the 
Middle East. Seals and sealings indicate the presence of Mesopotamians, Harap- 
pans, and Central Asians (Pittman in press), while ceramic links suggest the 
presence of denizens from across eastern Iran, Baluchistan, and the Persian Gulf/ 
Oman peninsula (Piran in press). This settlement, then, was a major cosmopolitan 
center for trade and commercial activity, and perhaps also a center for ritual 
activity and pilgrimage. Indeed, the vivid and complex iconography of the "Jiroft- 
style" chlorite bowls, as well as their counterparts in seals and sealings, display a 
local mythology and a pantheon of gods, goddesses, and heroes whose images 
have appeared as far away as the Royal Graves at Ur and the Gonur Necropolis 
in Turkmenistan (Pittman in press). 

For how long the Citadel at KSS was in use is not yet clear, although the latest 
surface material around the mound corresponds with the earliest material so far 
identified from KSN which can be dated stylistically to the later Shahdad cemetery 
period (c.2000-1800 BC) (Gholami in press). In the early levels at KSN, the 



Iran 605 

complex iconography of the Jiroft-style chlorite bowls had disappeared, to be 
replaced by simple "Gulf-style" (dot-and-circle motif) soft-stone vessels. Gone 
(or not yet found) is the evidence of large-scale craft production as seen at KSS, 
although seals and sealings from KSN continue to show contacts with distant 
regions (Pittman, in Majidzadeh 2008; in press). A massive, stepped mudbrick 
platform (300 x 300 meters) was built on top of this Middle Bronze Age layer 
at some uncertain date. The ceramics associated with this platform suggest a 2nd 
millennium BC occupation (Gholami in press), although comparanda for these 
ceramics are few. It is interesting to note, however, that the mudbricks used to 
construct this massive monument are identical in size and fabric to those used in 
the last phase of the KSS Citadel. As such, it is possible that both monuments 
were in use at the same time (i.e., in the early 2nd millennium BC). 

A full description of the Bronze Age settlement at Konar Sandal must await 
further research. While the interregional importance of this site is now widely 
accepted, intensive archaeological surveys of the Halil Rud are also needed to 
place Konar Sandal into its regional context. Many questions about this site 
remain, but it is clear that in the Jiroft region an important center of commerce 
and administration existed that, more than any other site in Bronze Age Iran, 
fits the traditional model for urban settlements in the ancient Near East. 



3 Conclusion 

The Bronze Age "cities" of Iran were something of a mixed bag, varying in size, 
sociopolitical complexity, and function. Settlements like Susa and Malyan were 
the political and cultural centers of large macro-regions, while other sites such as 
Shahr-i Sokhta or Konar Sandal seem to have been centers of commerce and craft 
production for local and foreign markets. Even relatively small settlements such 
as Hissar and Tureng played important roles as elite centers for their particular 
micro-regions. The fact that these distinct regions were not culturally or politi- 
cally unified until the Achaemenid empire speaks to the strong local identities 
that continue even today under the Islamic Republic of Iran (e.g., Lurs, Azeris, 
Turkmen, Baluchis, etc). 

Although culturally and politically distinct from each other, the various centers 
of Bronze Age Iran were linked by overland trade routes, particularly in the 3rd 
millennium BC. The types of goods that were passed along these trade routes 
and, indeed, the actual scale and mechanisms of this trade can only be surmised. 
However, it is clear that at various times, certain sites specialized in the produc- 
tion of particular goods (e.g., Tepe Yahya, chlorite; Shahdad, copper; Rud-i 
Biyaban, pottery) that were consumed locally, regionally, and supra-regionally. 
Whether these goods were exported over long distances en masse to the elite 
centers of the surrounding lowland civilizations, as originally assumed by Marxist 
scholars in the 1970s and 1980s, remains to be proven. However, it is clear that 



606 Bronze Age Cities of the Plains and, the Highlands 

the Bronze Age centers of Iran existed primarily as centers of craft production, 
commerce, and ideopolitical administration. 



GUIDE TO FURTHER READING 

For a more in-depth treatment of the Bronze Age material cultures of Iran, Voigt and 
Dyson (1992) is fairly comprehensive. Further discussion (and more extensive bibliogra- 
phies) on particular sites can be found in various articles in the Encyclopedia Iranica. For 
a general discussion of the Bronze Age of southwestern Iran, the reader is encouraged to 
look at Hole (1987a) and Potts (1999). A comparable text is still lacking for southeastern 
Iran, but Lamberg-Karlovsky and Tosi (1973) is a seminal treatise.